The Death of bin Laden and a New 'Political Moment'

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Welcome to Politics Bites, where every afternoon at It's A Free Country, we bring you the unmissable quotes from the morning's political conversations on WNYC. Today on the Brian Lehrer Show, It's A Free Country Political Reporter Anna Sale talked about what the death of Osama bin Laden means for the GOP, President Obama and the 2012 elections.

By now, almost every pundit and politician has had the opportunity to react to Osama bin Laden's death at the hands of the U.S. military in Pakistan. So what does this mean for the up-coming elections?

Less than a week ago, the public was more concerned with Obama's long form birth certificate than with the announced changes in his national security team. Now, he's responsible for an operation that killed the most wanted terrorist on the FBI's list and it seems to have hushed the birther-talk.

The new 'political moment'

It's a Free Country's political reporter, Anna Sale said this isn't really about whether or not Obama will win the reelection, it's more about how it changes the debate.

Now you see that the Republican field is at this interesting moment where Donald Trump has just been everywhere all the time. He has dominated the conversation about the Republican primary. So now you see Republican consultants sort of looking at this moment saying, maybe finally we'll see some serious candidates emerge, maybe someone's going to be able to take advantage of this moment and step up and reshape the whole dialogue.

One big question on the table has been whether or not people "feel safe" with President Obama in charge, according to Sale. She said the death of bin Laden could also change the way the public really feels about the president.

Back in March over a third of Americans said they considered Obama, as a commander in chief, indecisive and dithering. That is so damning. And then you have this photograph from the Situation Room where President Obama isn't even in the center of the room, but there's no doubt who is in charge and that he is in command of the situation and that he did make America safer by getting rid of Osama bin Laden.

And a 'moment' Obama's been waiting for

Republican challengers have chimed in about bin Laden's death over the past 48 hours and the commentary has been less critical of the President than usual. Sale noted a few examples, but said we have no idea how long these niceties could last. What is clear is that Obama is now on a tack he's wanted to be on for quite some time.

I think what's interesting is Obama being able to talk about a transformative moment, about what makes America America, about us coming together. That is exactly the kind of theme that he's been trying to build his reelection campaign around. When he spoke in Manhattan last week, he talked about the American dream, about making America American again and this is the theme that he's trying to work on with economic issues so it fits right in to that. And then you're of course going to have this image this week when he comes to Ground Zero on Thursday of President Obama at this place, our leader. So certainly this week it's a transformative moment and we are coming together. How long it will last? I'm not sure.

Another national event grabbing part of this "political moment" on Thursday? The very political GOP's first primary debate.


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Comments [26]

mormovies from New York City

Let's seize this political moment and finally kick the U.N. out of this country! They're now asking to review our actions in executing Bin Laden and want to pass judgement on us?! This is sheer insanity and the last straw. The U.N. sanctions dictators and mass atrocities! We must stand and make moral judgments based on OUR values which seldom jibe with the rest of the world. This country was founded in defiance of the rest of the world. We should not bow down or answer to anyone but ourselves.

May. 04 2011 02:48 PM

All the republicans trying to give Bush credit for the Bin Laden take-out are engaging in some very convenient revisionist history. W diverted troops from Afghanistan for his Saddam revenge campaign and used the entire situation as an opportunity for adventurism. One could make a strong argument that it was in Bush/Cheney's interest as leaders of the military-industrial complex to keep Bin Laden out there as a boogeyman, keeping fear alive and justifying further expenditures of blood and treasure. Few would dare say outright that the previous administration deliberately chose to let him go, but it could explain some very curious strategic decisions made during the manhunt.

May. 03 2011 11:04 AM
Yvonne from Park Slope, Brooklyn

When Democratic candidates talked about using police action/detective work rather than war as a primary tool, the political right derided them but it is police action/detective work, not war, that caught Bin Laden!!

What does this really say about the relative effectiveness of war VS police action/detective work and, if poverty and lack of education fuel the anti-American sentiment, doesn't war make this worse .... besides having a huge civilian toll???

May. 03 2011 11:02 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

@ dboy......

Good!..... I'm proud to be a Zionist and wouldn't want anyone to mistake me for anything else.

May. 03 2011 10:57 AM

If Obama's announcement was political, it was done with about as much subtlety as possible.

As opposed to Bush stuffing his codpiece, creating a banner claiming credit for "mission accomplished", and using a jetplane AND carrier for a perfect sunset shot.

May. 03 2011 10:53 AM
jgarbuz from Queens


(as long as he doesn't dare divide Jerusalem, that is :)

May. 03 2011 10:52 AM
Sera from Hoboken

Why not just use only surnames, and refer to Osama bin Laden as BIN LADEN, since Barack Obama is referred to as OBAMA? This would easily eliminate the error everyone keeps making of calling Obama Osama, and vice versa.

May. 03 2011 10:49 AM

Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan:

Your Zionism is showing.

May. 03 2011 10:47 AM
gary from queens

Obama was the one who made this event political:

10 thoughts on Osama bin Laden's death
By Toby Harnden World Last updated: May 2nd, 2011

6. I was struck by the way Obama used his address to highlight again and again his personal role. Fair enough – Obama, by any analysis, deserves immense credit – but this perhaps presages a campaign theme. There’s little doubt that Obama will receive a political boost from this, though ultimately the 2012 election will be decided by the economy.

May. 03 2011 10:46 AM
Paul from Edison NJ

"Mohammed did not reveal the names while being subjected to the simulated drowning technique known as waterboarding, former officials said. He identified them many months later under standard interrogation"

May. 03 2011 10:44 AM
david from ditmas park

you guest just used the word "surgical" to describe the osama operation. this is a word that i'm been thinking about in terms of the precision, the thought, and the determination that it took to conduct it.

obama has also used this word in describing the budget cutting and deficit issue. i hope this word gains more weight when he uses it from now on...

May. 03 2011 10:42 AM
JT from LI

Why are so many people trying to give Bush credit? I saw a clip last night where Bush clearly stated that he wasn't thinking about bin Laden anymore. That he wasn't important. This was about one year after 9/11.

May. 03 2011 10:42 AM
Donna from NYC

Obama has lost any credibility he may have had with this BS story about Osama. I'm sorry but c'mon people, turn your brains back on.

May. 03 2011 10:41 AM

Why the hell does the incompetent George Bush deserve any credit for this??

May. 03 2011 10:40 AM

Obama is "milking the good fortune". Uh huh. As opppsed to Bush and Co using the results of their own negligence to push every unrelated policy including lying us into a war.

As for slashing the budget for "platforms" that allow the Seals to operate. What a bunch of ambiguous hogwash. There is no necessity to spend as much as the rest of the world combined for these units, the French have commando units as well, and don't use them as an excuse for limitless corporate welfare.

On top of which, Obama has proven to be as deferential to the military as any President. So not only are your fantasies inaccurate, they're even aimed at the wrong person. A perfect Mobius strip of the Paranoid Conservative Mind.

May. 03 2011 10:40 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

I think Obama got serious about getting Osama so as to finally stop people from confusing or interchanging their names! It was getting downright embarrassing and possibly destructive of his second run.

Nevertheless, kudos to Osama, ooops, I meant Obama for getting Obama, oops I meant Osama finally at long last!

Osama, oops, I meant Obama deserves our wholehearted thanks!

May. 03 2011 10:38 AM

Is this going to make it even harder to cut any defense spending?

May. 03 2011 10:37 AM

Unfortunately, thought and reflection are equated with weakness. Unlike his predecessor, President Obama makes decisions after careful deliberation. To me, this makes our country look stronger not weaker. But deliberation doesn't fit with the 24 hour news feed.

May. 03 2011 10:37 AM
JT from LI

@Martin Chuzzlewit
It's obvious you just hate Obama no matter what he does and it's sad. I won't speculate on why you have this hatred of the man. If you think Obama's trip to Ground Zero is "pretentious and dishonest" I'd love to know what you think of Bush's "Mission Accomplished" publicity stunt on the carrier.

May. 03 2011 10:37 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

Obama and his brain, David Axelrod, are shamelessly milking our good fortune with this pretentious and dishonest trip to Ground Zero.

Or maybe Obama is going there to cut the ribbon for an adjacent mosque opening.

May. 03 2011 10:30 AM
gary from queens

Islam doesn't allow memorializing things or places. Shrines are not allowed. That's one reason islamists destroy shrines. So dropping Osama into the sea was not relevant. The way you must treat murderers of children and advocates of abhorent ideologies is to dispose of them unceremoneously. Take Osama out with the trash. Nothing more. Show no respect for him and for those who feel he deserves respect in death. Not even to note his death with a visit to Ground Zero, as Obama is planning.

But there is one Islamic tradition we should observe: beheading. Jihadists desacrate the bodies of infidels. Beheading was there method:

May. 03 2011 10:23 AM

Regarding the Economics of Bin laden's evaporation, i'm wondering why boeing, ge, and other stocks that profit wildly from "america's war on terror" (alongside Pakistan's rich) are going UP and not down.

Shouldn't they be pulling out their hair and submitting resumes -- or at least seeking their next cash cow? Can this event already be priced in? Do markets assume that America will NOT pull out of Pakistan? Irrational that the markets of America's biggest listed companies aren't tanking right now. A lesson here somewhere...but what?

May. 03 2011 10:10 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

The bitter irony here is that this president and his party......the biggest dangers to our local and national security in their naive George McGovern-era desire to gut the military.....are (incorrectly) getting credit for the final end of Bin Laden, the fruit of many years of the work of others who have a more realistic adult approach to the dangers of the world.

Obama would slash funding for the very platforms that enabled the Navy Seals to do their jobs. Yesterday, Barney Frank (in the Boston Globe) called for a $200 Billion annual cut in defense spending ....more than a quarter (!) of the annual budget.

This is truly the suicide of the West.....and the little boys and girls on the Left who post here will rue the day that their dreams finally came true with the President that they always wanted.

Killed Bin Laden, indeed....right.

May. 03 2011 09:25 AM

ive had enough.
this cult of death is too much. u are elevating him by showing his image over and over and continuing to talk about him. he was just one general in a long war. move on!
U all are making me miss hearing about prince William and Cate

May. 03 2011 09:10 AM
Jeff Pappas from Ct.

Dear President Obama,
Please release the photos / videos of OBL as a dead man. We all understand what a head shot will look like, but don't be shy, or fearful.
Remember how a dead US soldier was dragged behind a jeep in Somalia and how Daniel Pearls head was cut off, I don't think you should have any fear of comparison, only of censorship, denial of facts, transparency and worst of all conspiracy theory...

May. 03 2011 08:48 AM
Ed from Larchmont

What a contrast this weekend: a million people in Rome and countless around the world celebrating the beatification of John Paul II, remembering his life, and then the whole world rejoicing at the death of Bin Laden. The world does still have a sense of good and evil.

May. 03 2011 08:22 AM

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